This was a day I’d been looking forward to for a while: Mom’s semi-annual ‘Care Plan’ meeting. The top-level caregivers at Piedmont Place sat at the table with me and Lisa, and we talked about Mom. They had their perspective; we had ours. And when the two are put together, you’ve got a well-rounded idea of what’s really going on. From this, an improved ‘Care Plan’ can be devised.
The medical professionals listed Mom’s diagnoses: Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, Hypertension and Diabetes. The latter has been sort-of in the background for several years (prediabetes), but is now being recognized as an increasingly important part of her overall picture.
I have much to learn about diabetes, but its apparent symptoms include several that Mom is dealing with: increased thirst, frequent urination, frequent urinary tract infections (UTI’s) and falling. Daily blood-sugar readings are not required as yet. The current treatment is diet and exercise. The nutrition staff at PP feeds her exactly what she needs, and Mom provides the exercise by walking for an hour every day.
Parkinson’s is progressive; it can’t be cured or arrested. Diet, exercise and medications do relieve some of Mom’s symptoms a bit; tremors, slurred speech. Hypertension (high blood-pressure) is also treated with diet, exercise and medications. Mom claims this to be her biggest problem. Not to minimize it, but almost every time she complains to PP staff about a specific incident involving her BP, it reads nearly normal. Nevertheless, her BP is being watched regularly.
Our Care Plan meeting was mostly consumed with a discussion about Dementia. Inasmuch as PP staff are exposed to Mom daily, that exposure is not for long durations. I get that kind of exposure. I see symptoms and behaviors that they might not. This is why it’s good to get us all around the table every once in a while.
The medical staff says that Mom’s dementia isn’t affecting her normal life-functioning. She’s not holing up in her room. She is getting around. She’s social, eats with others in the dining room, plays bingo. These are all valid points.
Then it was our turn. Lisa and I described how Mom jumps conversationally from one subject to another; how she uses daily events (meals, bingo) as benchmarks without which she gets lost. This is much like her ‘taking inventory‘ upon greeting us. “How are you? How’s Lisa? How’s…” I described how she is easily redirected by anyone – including other residents – often to her own detriment. Example: a patient will engage Mom and she’ll stand for long periods of time despite needing to go to the bathroom. This happens a lot!
We talked at length about redirection and about the danger this could put Mom in. But, as I discussed in previous posts, this hasn’t yet reached a level where something more radical needs to be done.
I’m slowly coming to understand that Mom’s dementia isn’t as much her problem as it is mine. Mom knows her brain isn’t working as well as it once did, but there’s nothing she can do about it, so she copes as best she can. The problem is mine because I have not yet learned how to deal with the way her brain now works. As this became apparent in the discussion today, all heads turned toward me almost in unison, and I was asked, “Have you looked into a support group?”
Well, I have. There are two of them near my home but I have not gotten my lazy butt over to one. So a commitment was squeezed from me today, and I’ll be in a group within the next two weeks. As with diabetes, I have much to learn about dementia; and who better to learn from than others who have had this experience.
Have you had this experience? I would sure love to hear about it.